Ghar Se Panga: Ace defender Vishal Bhardwaj spending his time between workouts and wheat chafing during lockdown
The coronavirus pandemic has brought life to a standstill across the world. Especially in the Kabaddi world, a sport defined by contact between people, is taking a break from the usual tours. The athletes are also bound by the rules of isolation as the rest of us. Kabaddi Adda talks to Kabaddi athletes, staying at homes or their academies, on their changed routines, with competitions on hold and plenty of time on hand.
Left Corner, Himachal Pradesh, Telugu Titans (Pro Kabaddi League)
We are forced by the Corona situation to find creative ways to train - without teammates or in your normal set-up? What is your changed training schedule?
I'm training mostly at home. We have set up a gym at home. So workout for a couple of hours in the morning. In the day I spend time mostly in the fields. Then follow it up with another workout session at home. Stay fit so that once we get an opportunity to get back on the ground, we can continue to maintain the tempo. With respect to skill, I continue to train for the ankle hold and other skills at home gym itself.
Any tips for young athletes to remain in shape, while at home?
My only advice to young Kabaddi players is to continue training at home - whether at your home gym or skipping is another option. You can always go for a quick run outside.
How are you being disciplined about your diet?
I am following my usual diet. But we supplement it with protein shakes. But I also have lots of lassi, milk, ghee -- mostly ghar ka khana (home-cooked food).
Is there any advantage of being in a situation like this?
I am just happy spending a lot of time with my family. Usually I am travelling for tournaments and camps. I help out with small things at home - for instance, it is wheat chafing season in Himachal so I help out by beating the wheat grains. So I am doing a lot of wheat chafing the last few days.
Have you taken up any new hobbies or pastimes?
Sometimes a few of my friends get together and we play carroms. Last few days we have been watching the highlights of Pro Kabaddi matches. We discuss those matches. Then of course we watch the timeless Indian series Ramayan - both in the mornings and evenings.
Who else in your family or town plays Kabaddi?
Surprisingly no one from my family plays Kabaddi. I’m the first one to. Also, no one from my town has earlier represented India in Kabaddi. However, four players from here are a part of Pro Kabaddi - Surinder Singh from U Mumba, Vineet Sharma from Tamil Thalaivas and Rohit Chaudhary from Puneri Paltan.
With not many senior players from your town, what inspired you to take up the sport?
When I was in school, my town basketball team was a very strong team. So I took up basketball initially, also have played in Basketball Junior Nationals twice. Then Pro Kabaddi started and my schol coach Sushil Kumar suggested I should take up Kabaddi. Then I started playing Kabaddi actively, at 14. When I went for trials in Bilaspur and really enjoyed playing there, Kabaddi became a part of my life. My goal was just to play Pro Kabaddi and so kept pushing towards that goal.
Great story! Who was your role model in Pro Kabaddi?
None other than the best player from Himachal, Ajay Thakur! Ajay is a DSP (Police) so we keep meeting each other. We travel often together for Himachal - in the recently concluded Senior Nationals at Jaipur. He is like my big brother. He also got me a job on contract with Air India when I was having some issues with my graduation.
You have always been into sports be it basketball or kabaddi. How did you balance your studies and sport?
Once I took up Kabaddi, my life was all sport. Academics took a step back. But somehow I pulled through! Although I am from a middle-class family they helped me pursue my Pro Kabaddi dreams. Otherwise, I would have probably joined the Army anyways. By God’s grace, I made it.
What was the tournament or match where your life turned around?
I had gone to the Juniors tournament (2016/17) being held in Iran. Srinivas Reddy was India’s coach. I got a chance to play in the Finals, where I played as a raider and score 12 raid points and 4 tackle points. Srinivas Reddy was the Telugu Titans coach and he got me into the team.
What has changed after you started playing Pro Kabaddi?
I get a lot of recognition in my village, district and in Himachal Pradesh. I often go to colleges as Chief Guest. Also, it is much easier as a Kabaddi player to get a job nowadays.
You are undoubtedly one of the best left corners in Pro Kabaddi. How did you master the ankle hold skill?
There is a boy in my village, Ankush - who was brilliant at ankle hold. He taught me how to do it. Now he is also attempting to get selected into Pro Kabaddi.
One PKL match which you remember because of your performance?
A match against Patna Pirates in PKL 6. Pardeep Narwal was in fantastic form but I stopped him 4 times in that match. I scored a total of 9 tackle points in this match.
Name a few raiders you love to go head to head against.
Rapid-fire with Vishal Bharadwaj
- Favorite Indian Kabaddi player - Ajay Thakur
- Favorite foreign Kabaddi player - Abozar
- Best friend among the Kabaddi players - Sidharth Desai
- Favorite sport other than Kabaddi - Basketball
- Favorite player outside Kabaddi - MS Dhoni
- Favorite movie - Uri
- If you can recite your favorite dialogue or a song? - How's the Josh
- Your favorite actor/actress - Aarnet, Punjabi singer
- You ride a - RE Bullet